Judge Dredd 35 (September 1986)

Judge Dredd #35

This issue has two stories–a long feature (or a combination of at least three 2000 A.D. chapters) and a backup. Wagner and Grant write both, Ron Smith does the art on both. Smith’s an interesting artist for Dredd because he doesn’t take any time with the judges. Both stories require judges to be distinguished, Smith doesn’t care. But he does care about the rest of the story.

The rest of the story–for the feature–has to do with a town of refugees and what happens when Dredd brings the law. Lots of big action and small future post-apocalyptic stuff. Wagner and Grant do a whole exile thing with the criminals; it’s fairly awesome Dredd. Once one gets over Smith’s inability to draw Dredd.

The backup has judge impersonators (while the feature just has lots of judges). The scheming criminals distinguish it (in their silliness) most of all.

CREDITS

Writers, John Wagner and Alan Grant; artist, Ron Smith; letterer, Tom Frame; editor, Dave Elliot; publisher, Quality Periodicals.

The Fly: Outbreak 1 (March 2015)

The Fly: Outbreak #1

Dear IDW, NOW Comics is calling from 1990; they want their Fly comic back.

The Fly: Outbreak is a quizzical sequel absolutely no one was asking for, but apparently there are some long-term likeness contracts in place through 20th Century Fox (so the comic “stars” Eric Stoltz and Daphne Zuniga in their parts) so it feels like a desperate cash grab from when someone thought The Fly II might warrant a comic book license.

Of course, it didn’t in 1989 (or 1990). Does it in 2015? Is Outbreak the sequel people have been waiting twenty-six years for? Did we really need to see Zuniga’s character as an S&M goddess, tying up Stoltz’s half-man-fly 50 Shades of Grey-style?

No.

No, we did not. No one did. Well, unless someone gets Stoltz and Zuniga to read this thing for a YouTube video.

It’s heinous, licensed crap.

CREDITS

Writer, Brandon Seifert; artist, menton3; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Denton J. Tipton; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Multiversity: Ultra Comics 1 (May 2015)

The Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1

What’s Grant Morrison doing with Ultra Comics, a Multiversity tie-in issue? Well, he’s giving Doug Mahnke a lot of great stuff to draw. If you ignore all of Morrison’s breaking the fourth wall (but not really–it’s not like it’s a “Choose Your Own Adventure”), the comic just gives Mahnke a chance to realize this quick superhero story in the apocalypse.

What’s caused the apocalypse? A Cthulhu-like monster. It might not come across as a big Alan Moore knock if Ultra–he’s the protagonist of Ultra Comics–if Ultra didn’t look like Miracleman. The issue has a credit to Siegel and Shuster and there’s a Shazam reference; but what isn’t clear is if Morrison likes Miracleman or not.

There’s lame stuff about the reader interacting and generating the life of the comic (and protagonist) and Internet whining. But it’s thoughtless.

Except the Mahnke art makes it all worthwhile.

CREDITS

Ultra Comics Lives!; writer, Grant Morrison; penciller, Doug Mahnke; inkers, Christian Alamy, Mark Irwin, Keith Champagne and Jaime Mendoza; colorists, Gabe Eltaeb and David Baron; letterer, Steve Wands; editor, Rickey Purdin; publisher, DC Comics.

Curb Stomp 2 (March 2015)

Curb Stomp #2

The second half of the issue works out a lot better than the first. It’s strange but the first half feels like a different comic; it’s a little too soon for writer Ferrier to have defined the Curb Stomp reading experience but it’s also not. It’s a limited series. Readers want to feel a connection to the previous issue.

This issue has Ferrier doing a lot of political intrigue. It’s all excruciatingly boring. The comic does not seem to have any hook this issue, which isn’t good for Ferrier. The ending sort of delivers on one promise from the issue, but that promise was just a red herring.

And Ferrier’s off with the dialogue this time around too. The previous issue had an urgency around the usually somewhat inane document.

Artist Neogi runs hot and cold. Decent composition can’t outweigh the static faces on the characters.

It needs more oomph.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan Ferrier; artist, Devaki Neogi; colorist, Jeremy Lawson; letterer, Colin Bell; editors, Jasmine Amiri and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Abigail and the Snowman 4 (March 2015)

Abigail and the Snowman #4

Langridge, no surprise, concludes Abigail and the Snowman beautifully. It’s a double-sized issue, which is good since the first half of it is mostly Abigail and Claude hanging out as they walk him to the boat to take him back to the Himalayas.

While they have that awesome hangout time–one of the most masterful things Langridge does in Abigail is control the characters and how they interact in front of the reader. The issue has six characters in it–but mostly five (along with two small speak parts). It’s very deliberately told and very impressive how Langridge is able to make that walk with Abigail and Claude so rewarding.

But Langridge still has to finish the series (the extra space lets him spend that hangout time, not necessarily just do all action) and he does it well. With some nice quiet surprises.

It’s a confident, delightful, rewarding conclusion.

CREDITS

Writer, artist, letterer, Roger Langridge; colorist, Fred Stresing; editors, Cameron Chittock and Rebecca Taylor; publisher, KaBOOM!.

Judge Dredd 34 (August 1986)

Judge Dredd #34

It’s an excellent issue about a vigilante hitting various organized crime guys in Mega-City One. Does it make any sense for there to be mobsters above the Judges? No. It’s sort of weird and has something of a retro vibe–like it doesn’t really star Judge Dredd but his training officer.

Nice art from Ezquerra and Ian Gibson. There’s a lot of precise action in the story–Dredd is sure the vigilante has been trained as a Judge and the vigilante has a couple intricate plans to execute. The art on those sequences is real strong and would be surprisingly ambitious if Ezquerra and Gibson didn’t also take a very grand approach to Dredd himself this story.

It’s big and awesome.

The backup has Dredd fighting a giant ape robot. Ezquerra’s art is inventive, Malcolm Shaw’s script is short and goofy.

That lead story is rather good Judge Dredd.

CREDITS

Writers, John Wagner, Alan Grant and Malcolm Shaw; artists, Ian Gibson and Carlos Ezquerra; letterers, Tom Frame and Stan Richardson; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Quality Periodicals.

Princess Ugg 8 (March 2015)

Princess Ugg #8

Well, Naifeh sure does wrap up Ugg nicely. Oh, he hurries it a little to be sure. There’s no reason he couldn’t have stretched this issue out to two and it would’ve done a lot better for the other princesses’ arcs and the diplomatic stuff, but it’s impossible to hold it against him or Ugg.

The conclusion is unexpected, sort of obvious, rather intelligence, rather empathetic. The only thing it’s missing is an appearance from Ülga’s professor, who’d be proud of her. Naifeh is rushing, no doubt. He cuts scenes short in the epilogue too, I just realized.

But again, it really doesn’t matter. Because Ugg brings a tear to one’s eye and Naifeh gets there sincerely. Somehow, Naifeh’s able to bring surprise after surprise and for it all to come across naturally. Like he’d been laying the groundwork for it all along.

Naifeh brings Ugg and Ülga home well.

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Ted Naifeh; colorists, Warren Wucinich and Naifeh; letterer, Wucinich; editors, Robin Herrera and Jill Beaton; publisher, Oni Press.

Sons of Anarchy 19 (March 2015)

Sons of Anarchy #19

On his first issue, it’s clear new writer Ryan Ferrier doesn’t have handle on Sons of Anarchy. He’s got Bergara on the art, which doesn’t exactly help him. Bergara has a few more really good panels this issue than I was expecting, but he doesn’t bring anything to the book overall.

And it’s not clear what Ferrier’s trying to do. The Sons bring in a new member who screws up a deal. There are problems and there will be more problems, there’s just not any tension. It’s also strange how the kid gets inducted; maybe because Ferrier doesn’t even write new dialogue for the scene, just recycles stuff from earlier.

Sons has had a really good run; it’s possible Ferrier is just finding his footing but it sure doesn’t bode well for the series’s future. It’s an unworkable combination of too ambitious and not ambitious enough, which is too bad.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan Ferrier; artist, Matías Bergara; colorist, Paul Little; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Mary Gumport and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Ms. Marvel 13 (May 2015)

Ms. Marvel #13

Takeshi Miyazawa’s art changes Ms. Marvel. Along with the family emphasis this issue–Kamala spending time with them instead of her friends at school–it nearly feels like a different comic. Miyazawa is action-oriented and less detailed than the comic’s usual artists; the experience is different.

Even Wilson’s writing feels a little different, as she’s telling a story about Kamala having a crush on an older guy from her perspective (complete with her family being concerned).

Not to mention there are now so many Inhumans everywhere it’s like Marvel got worried about “The Flash” TV show being able to create a new supervillain every week and had to do the same thing themselves.

Unfortunately, that aspect of the comic–the big, somewhat boring supervillain fight–is where Wilson loses track of her story. The texture is gone. It’s a fine issue, it just ends a little out of step.

CREDITS

Crushed, Part One; writer, G. Willow Wilson; artist, Takeshi Miyazawa; colorists, Ian Herring and Irma Knivila; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Charles Beacham, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Howard the Duck 1 (May 2015)

Howard the Duck #1

Wouldn’t it be funny to do a new Howard the Duck comic full of pop culture references to tie into his newfound recognition thanks to the Guardians of the Galaxy movie? People might buy it! It’ll be amazing.

Or, actually, thanks to writer Chip Zdarksy, it’ll be painfully obvious.

Wait, what if there are references to DC Comics characters too!?! Then it’ll be amazing.

Nope, it’ll still be painfully obvious.

Wait, wait, wait. What about a Rocket Raccoon cameo in the first issue?!? Everybody loved him in Guardians; he’s like Wolverine, only Marvel controls all of his rights, not just comics, animation, toys and video games.

If you can’t guess, the new Howard the Duck is just about the most soulless mercenary comic someone could come up with. It’s not Zdarsky’s fault; he doesn’t care. The comic’s readable, just obvious and entirely uninventive.

Wait… why can’t Howard meet Donald now?

CREDITS

Writer, Chip Zdarsky; artist, Joe Quinones; colorist, Rico Renzi; letterer, Travis Lanham; editors, Jon Moisan and Wil Moss; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ghosted 18 (March 2015)

Ghosted #18

Very unexpected turns in this issue. Williamson almost seems to be getting to a place where he might wind Ghosted down. Soon. I hope not.

This issue–this arc–is the greatest hits of the series so far. He brings back the first villain, he brings back cast members from subsequent arcs. The interplay between these characters, who came into the series in its wholly different phases, is great. Even when it’s a little aside or a character talking under his or her breath, it’s great. Williamson’s got a vision for how the comic plays out.

Again, hope it’s not winding down.

But this issue, which has the characters tasked with getting from point A to point B (albeit through a field of angry ghosts), goes somewhere unexpected. It’s a nice, gentle move from Williamson.

It’s Ghosted so it’s not gentle in action, just in how he gets to it.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Vladimir Krstic Laci; colorist, Miroslav Mrva; letterer, Rus Wooten; editors, Helen Leigh and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Big Trouble in Little China 9 (March 2015)

Big Trouble in Little China #9

Churilla’s art seems really rushed this issue, but it might not be his fault. The issue winds down and Powell gets to his cliffhanger and all of a sudden it’s clear the big panel composition wasn’t to help Churilla, but Powell. There’s not a lot of story this issue–and when there is story, it’s Powell keeping the movie villain in play (after promising his demise three or four times now).

It’s amusing enough, but Big Trouble in Little China hasn’t really gotten anywhere. It’s even lost some of the devices Powell utilized in the first few issues (like Jack’s flashbacks). Mostly it’s because Jack is barely a character in the comic anymore, save his appearance on the covers.

Only the supporting cast hasn’t really taken his place. Powell just has all these likable characters doing mundane mystical adventure tasks.

But, like I said, it’s amusing enough. Even when lazy.

CREDITS

Writers, John Carpenter and Eric Powell; artist, Brian Churilla; colorist, Lisa Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Bitch Planet 3 (February 2015)

Bitch Planet #3

Robert Wilson IV’s guest art on this issue of Bitch Planet leaves a lot to be desired. Wilson seems like he wants to do cheesecake–or at least something more appropriate for Archie–and writer DeConnick doesn’t do anything with that sensibility. Her story’s the very tough tale of one of the convicts and how she got to Bitch Planet.

Which is another problem. Third issue is way too soon for a couple things. First, obviously, a fill-in artist with a completely different style than the regular series artist. Second, a character origin story. The character isn’t distinctive enough to remember and this issue doesn’t make her more memorable in the context of the regular story.

DeConnick also tells a lot of tales of the future in this issue, lots of the patriarchal society. It’s all pretty bland sci-fi stuff. And Wilson’s art’s wrong for it too.

Eh.

CREDITS

Writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick; artist, Robert Wilson IV; colorist, Cris Peter; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Image Comics.

Rat God 1 (February 2015)

Rat God #1

Even with some really bad narration from one of the characters, Rat God is off to a fantastic start thanks to Richard Corben. The book is that sturdy combination of great art and inventive, terrifying storytelling.

While there are apparently going to be some Lovecraft nods, Rat God starts out with a couple Native Americans on the run from some kind of danger. It’s Corben illustrating the American wilderness; the scenery is jaw-dropping, gorgeous. Great colors from Corben and daughter Beth Corben Reed.

The story’s fine. It’s creepy and looks amazing. But then Corben changes up the comic completely with the introduction of an obnoxious white guy and reveals the comic’s set in the 1930s and this guy knows the Native American girl from the opening, only as a “modern” woman.

It’s a lot of information for a first issue, but Corben handles the mood perfectly. Except that narration.

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Richard Corben; colorists, Corben and Beth Corben Reed; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Jemiah Jefferson, Shantel LaRoque and Scott Allie; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

The Black Hood 1 (April 2015)

The Black Hood #1

Michael Gaydos is the wrong guy for The Black Hood, just because he’s so perfectly the “right guy” for it. The series is Archie Comics’s attempt to do something knew with their superhero properties (they’ve been trying to do something with them for a couple decades now). Duane Swierczynski writes a tough story, Gaydos does tough art. It’s all realistic, set it modern Philadelphia, very depressing.

So why’s Gaydos wrong? Because he doesn’t bring anything to the comic. Swierczynski doesn’t have an appealing protagonist or a compelling setup–a cop gets injured (and disfigured); he eventually gets hooked on painkillers and then assumes the identity of the Black Hood, a vigilante he himself killed in the incident where he got disfigured.

It’s all so clean it’s pointless. Swierczynski is going through the motions; make this comic tough. Gaydos is doing the same thing.

Whether it’s tough isn’t important at all.

CREDITS

The Bullet’s Kiss, Part One; writer, Duane Swierczynski; artist, Michael Gaydos; colorist, Kelly Fitzpatrick; letterer, Rachel Deering; editors, Vincent Lovallo, Paul Kaminsky and Alex Segura; publisher, Archie Comics.

Descender 1 (March 2015)

Descender #1

Descender isn’t the most original thing under the sun. It’s hard to read it and not be reminded of the Spielberg movie, A.I.. Writer Jeff Lemire borrows major android concepts, but apparently not a lot of emotional heft concepts, which is good. Because, even though it’s got a lot of problems, Descender is far more successful than A.I..

Dustin Nguyen’s art makes the comic. He does this watercolor-looking thing and it’s great. He still has detail in his panels; the painting style doesn’t overtake the lines. It’s fantastic looking.

And the story has some unexpected moments, but there’s a nice collaboration between Lemire and Nguyen going on. Like Nguyen’s got more detail than Lemire’s putting into the story. Even though the story’s somewhat predictable and the details are mostly bland sci-fi things, the comic engages. Nguyen’s art is the right mix of mainstream and not to sell it.

CREDITS

Tin Stars, Part One; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Dustin Nguyen; letterer, Steve Wands; publisher, Image Comics.

Princess Leia 1 (May 2015)

Princess Leia #1

You know, I almost like Princess Leia. Oh, the Terry Dodson and Rachel Dodson art is lame cheesecake–though they draw Chewbacca well enough–and Mark Waid’s script isn’t lame cheesecake. Waid’s doing this whole “young Princess Leia” comes into her own thing, really playing into the original Star Wars idea of her being young.

Waid’s dialogue makes Leia feel like a good “Disney Princess” Leia; not so much believable Carrie Fisher would be speaking the lines, which are far too modern and not seventies (or Lucas) enough. And it raises an interesting question about this new Star Wars line of comics.

As these first Disney Star Wars titles start, serving as direct sequel to the original seventies film, with the new film with that cast imminent, can these characters be bigger than their actors?

No. No, they can not.

Leia is still okay. Waid’s engaged, even though Dodson isn’t.

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Waid; penciller, Terry Dodson; inker, Rachel Dodson; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Charles Beacham and Jordan D. White; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Crossed + One Hundred 3 (February 2015)

Crossed + One Hundred #3

For this issue of Crossed, Moore goes nice and calm. He brings his explorers back to their home and lets all the things they’ve learned settle in. What’s so disconcerting–but not bad–about One Hundred is the way Moore’s vernacular makes sense by the end of the issue but not necessarily at the beginning. It’ll probably be perfect in a trade.

Moore even makes a joke (using Cormac McCarthy’s The Road).

Most of the issue is the protagonist, Future, hanging out with her mom, her cat (Flash Gordon) and catching up. Through that catch-up, Moore’s able to reveal the future society a bit. Then there’s the building toward whatever the big reveal is going to be.

It’s a calm, fantastic, quietly terrifying issue; the people’s lives seem so mundane, it conditions the reader not to get too excited by the horrific nature of it all. Moore’s kicking butt.

CREDITS

Writer, Alan Moore; artist, Gabriel Andrade; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Jaymes Reed; publisher, Avatar Press.

Curb Stomp 1 (February 2015)

Curb Stomp #1

Curb Stomp, quite frankly, plays like a Troma remake of Repo Man. It’s post-apocalyptic, but not in a fantastical way, with its characters just trying to get by in a difficult world. The leads are the five or six members of the gang The Fevers. They’re punk rock and all women, as opposed to their rival gangs, who are coed and don’t have any major unified fashion statements going on.

Writer Ryan Ferrier worries more about cool characters than good dialogue and it works. His dialogue’s fine, affected, not realistic. He doesn’t plot out long scenes. He keeps it moving. A lot happens in the first issue, maybe two major plot points, which is nice to see in an indie limited series.

Devaki Neogi’s art reminds a little of Love and Rockets (in a good way) and the issue is a rather substantial success. Curb Stomp gets started strong.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan Ferrier; artist, Devaki Neogi; colorist, Neil Lalonde; letterer, Colin Bell; editors, Jasmine Amiri and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw 4 (February 2015)

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw #4

Yeah, Dewey really can’t draw people. He’ll do this beautiful anthropomorphic giraffe and then the lame human character. Of course, the human character is only lame in how Dewey draws him; Busiek writes the character rather well.

Busiek brings Dusty–who the first entire issued followed–into the present narrative as the human’s sidekick. They go out and explore the world and discover things aren’t like Dusty, on the sky-ship, has been told. And all the art is beautiful. Except the human.

I can’t remember how to spell the human’s name, which is why I’m just calling him the human. Busiek goes for something close to Leonard, but there’s a Y in there somewhere.

There’s the behind the scenes corrupt and the evil, if dumb, owl. I was hoping Busiek would tone down the political intrigue a bit, but the issue works out well even with it hanging around.

CREDITS

Writer, Kurt Busiek; artist, Benjamin Dewey; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterers, John Roshell and Jimmy Betancourt; publisher, Image Comics.

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